On this week’s episode of “What’s Eric Eating,” Chef Niki Vongthong joins CultureMap Editor-in-Chief Eric Sandler to discuss Hidden Omakase. Among the hardest-to-book reservations in Houston, the Galleria-area restaurant serves a 15-course Japanese-inspired tasting menu to less than 20 diners per seat.
The conversation begins with Vongthong recounting his roots in the hospitality industry through Asia Market, the famous Thai grocery store and restaurant. After culinary school, she worked in restaurants such as Straits, Uchi and Aqui. Although she has been involved in creating omakase menus at both Uchi and Aqui, the chef says she really fell in love with the format while working at a Japanese-inspired restaurant in Thailand.
“It was my first experience of opening an omakase, a Japanese-style restaurant, and using Thai ingredients as well,” says Vongthong. “I love this style of meal. I love bites. I love snacks, tapas-style meals. I also love serving it, because it’s about that perfect bite.
Listen to the full interview to learn more about Hidden Omakase and Vongthong’s future plans.
Before the interview, Sandler and co-host Matt Harris discuss the week’s news. Their topics include: thoughts on attending the filming of The best chefs night market challenge; James Beard Award finalists from Houston; and award-winning pastry chef Jordi Roca opening an ice cream shop in Houston.
In the restaurant of the week segment, Harris and Sandler share their thoughts on Flora, the new Mexican restaurant. They are impressed with the restaurant’s attention to detail, but note a few small areas for improvement.